Cómhla Breac: the Speckled Gate … a doorway into my Otherworld

As I commence my Nature Awareness Journal for the work of the ADF Naturalist Guild, I find myself reflecting with mirth and some bemusement on the requirements, especially the instructions to “Grow something.” Don’t get me wrong; I think this is a wonderful suggestion, probably one of the most important in all the list. It’s just that I can hear the characters of all my beloved plants clamoring to receive the coveted prize to be the “something” that is grown and featured in this part of the requirement. The truth is that I am already responsible for the care of many plants. Yeah, like lots and lots of plants, ranging from the perkiest of short-lived exuberant annuals, to trees that are no longer the saplings that I planted but now sentinels of blossom and foliage color in an urban forest understory. Not to mention the hundreds of gorgeous seasonal perennials filling in between, plus a modicum of food plants that will tolerate the high shade of my wooded space.

That has me wondering… Should I report on what I already have growing or should I plant something new, something I have never grown before? The quandary there being that after years of investing money and time in plants that were not native to my habitat or so fancy as far as hybridization, I (and the plants) have grown weary with trying to get the unadapted to adapt to my sandy-soiled sloping wooded space. So for the most part, I have stuck with a themed blend of what I know will work as far as herbs, prairie plants and reliable shade-lovers like hellebores and hostas.

We have just begun work on a pond in our yard. I am contemplating investing some money in hardy water lilies and other pond-loving aquatics. I have not yet ordered any of these plants because the work is still underway, so I do not have an adequate home for them yet. (Actually, that’s not entirely true, I did order 50 Wedgewood-blue camassia bulbs for the border areas around the pond. I just can’t help myself…) I do have the aquatics nursery picked out and have been eying up varieties in an on-line catalog operated by another green-thumbed member of our hippy tribe. There are some truly lovely examples in his catalog, too, that appear to glow in the photos with an inner light like little, floating stained glass lanterns.

I also thought this might be the time to take-up the art of fruit tree grafting, something I have always wanted to learn. Then again, where in this crowded space will I put any new trees that would be the result of these unions, especially since I already have at least four unidentified stone-fruit saplings to relocate that have germinated along the walk up to the side door from seasons of my own offspring eating the fruit and then pitching the pits into the fertile soil of the flanking garden beds?

Perhaps the chosen plant should be a new houseplant for the winter months, since a good part of this journal will be unfolding as the weather cools. Right now, it’s just too hot and too frighteningly dry to plant anything, and all my energies are consumed with watering the “babies” I already have while I keep hoping for a real rain.